MEET CEECEE JAMES

CeeCee was one of the first people I ever met through social media and the accounts of her early life are quite harrowing – she had a really hard time. I can relate to that, but her story makes you want to cry. After writing two books, on her childhood she has now broadened out into the ‘cozy mystery’ genre and doing really well.  I am so thrilled that her life changed around and she is not only successful, but enjoying her writing and well-deserved success. This is what CeeCee sent me.

I’m one of those weird people who’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was in elementary school, I’d beg the teacher to let me read the stories that I’d written to my classmates in place of the classics she liked to soothe us with after we ran in sweaty and energized from recess. I’ll never know if the students preferred my stories to Robinson Crusoe, as I was so caught up in sharing my world of a soldier returning from war. But the students were silent and the teacher was pleased, and so I had many chances.

As I grew older, I filled notebook after notebook with vignettes and poems. In junior high, I once submitted a few poems to a contest that our local newspaper held. Imagine my surprise when, a week later, my friend thrust the newspaper into my hands on the school bus and I saw my poems won first, second and third place.

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Life wasn’t easy growing up, as it isn’t for many of us. Through foster care and many moves, my notebooks became a safer world, one where I could both spread my wings, and have roots with a pretend family.  Sadly, it was during one of those moves where I lost my notebooks.

 

 

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But I never lost the stories. As an adult, the first book I published was my memoir, Ghost No More—my personal story of beauty culled from the ashes of my childhood. It was always my hope that I could validate my readers in their stories of what they’ve overcome, as well as encourage anyone who needed to hear that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Ghost no more is a #1 best seller

The rest of my childhood imaginary worlds trickled out in several of my fiction series. Now I’ve settled down in my favorite genre, cozy mystery. And I’m incredibly thankful I still get to make up stories to entertain anyone who wants to listen.

Thank you CeeCee, a very brave and talented lady.

SINGAPORE 2 AND THE STUFF UP REVEALED

Now many people may not know much about Singapore except that’s it’s over that way somewhere, but most of us have heard of Raffles.  This is THE famous hotel and is renowned for its long bar where they serve a drink called the Singapore Sling.

I was amazed by the building and took masses of photos. I suspect it’s also well known for its high prices too. The cost of a room was astronomical!

I so wanted to visit the Writer’s Bar hoping to soak up some energy or maybe have a quiet word, one writer to another, but they were not encouraging the passing trade into the hotel itself. We had to be content in walking around the outside.

However, we were welcomed into the Long Bar and so we had to have a Singapore Sling (don’t ask how much it cost, though we did fork out for one each, it was not the sort of place where you asked for 2 straws).

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HISTORICAL END OF EDWARD VII

Edward lead a very healthy lifestyle. He usually smoked 20 cigarettes and 12 cigars a day. Towards the end of his life he increasingly suffered from bronchitis. In March 1910 he collapsed while on holiday in Biarritz, and back in London he suffered several heart attacks but refused to go to bed saying “No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end.”

Despite the dishes piling up in the sink, and a week’s ironing waiting to be done, sadly he was not well enough to do his usual chores.

THE STUFF UP

I promised didn’t I? I was trying to think out of the box – way out, be different. So, I hit on the idea of Amie – my main character – suing me for cruelty, transporting her to Africa, throwing her in jail etc. At first I had a few emails saying how clever, and I mentioned it on a live radio interview but the presenter paused and immediately changed the subject. The ongoing story was in the newsletter with exchange of legal letters and so on.

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Then, I began to get supportive letters urging me to get a good lawyer, and how ridiculous she had asked for £1.5m compensation etc etc. People were taking this seriously, it wasn’t funny anymore.  So I shall end the charade with a simple statement to say we have settled out of court and crawl back inside the box again.

If you want to find out what I did to her feel free to look inside any of the first three in the series.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K  book 1 also available in Spanish www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7K4JHC  and in audio  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

Oh and Here’s the link for my newsletter should you want to sign up – in fact please sign up and maybe re-blog this so everyone can sign up – no harm in asking.   http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

Till next week, take care.

SINGAPORE AND A STUFF UP

TRAVEL SECTION ON THE BIG TRIP

Why did I like Singapore? It was neat, clean and well ordered, music to my Virgin Virgoan mind. One thing I noticed was the correct following distance between cars – two lengths between each while everyone managed to keep up a very respectable speed. I kept pointing this out to DH who tends to drive up other people’s bumpers but the only relpy was an indecipherable grunt.

We found this amazing place and I’m not sure we should have been in there, it was deserted, but it seemed to the entrance to flats or offices.

Gives a whole new dimension to the cafe downstairs!

HISTORY NONSENSE

Edward VII was right when he reckoned he would only reign for a short time, it was 9 years, not long besides his mother who’d been sitting on that throne for 63 – though the doctor did give her something for the chair sores.

But Bertie had a long life to look back on. In general the people though he’d not been a bad king, at least he got out and about unlike mum who sat inside and sulked.

THE STUFF UP

I’ve often said that those who got into the market place early had an amazing start, in the days before a new book was uploaded every 5 minutes. I should have been one of them as I published Walking over Eggshells in 2013, but then I knew nothing about marketing – not sure I know much now – so I sat with my book on Amazon and was surprised to see I’d sold 37 copies in that first year. I had no idea if anyone was going to buy it and I’m not sure I even thought about sales in those days. Ha, wish that was true now!

Then I saw an email address in the back of a book and as it was doing so well on Amazon I wrote to the author.

As they say, the rest is history. I joined Facebook, opened a Twitter account, put up a picture on Pinterest and devoured the blogs which dropped into my in-box. I was about to dip my toe into the world of marketing.

I decided that I had to be innovative and come up with something really different – but it backfired and I’ll tell you next week what it was. This I’m told is a cliff hanger! 🙂

Here is Walking over Eggshells, about to celebrate its 4th birthday.

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It’s the story of how my mother who suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder affected my life. I guess I should be grateful to Donald Trump as he is now described in similar terms and more people are aware of this syndrome. All I knew was that my mother didn’t love me and I thought it was my fault. She even succeeded in causing havoc from the grave after she passed on.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW  and available on all channels myBook.to/WoE

Till next week, take care.

MEET ANNE E JOHNSON

There are two connections I have with this week’s author. I originally came from Dublin, and as you will see, Anne writes about the time when Dublin was still small but growing. When I went back a couple of years ago, it had grown ever larger, but parts were much the same.

The second connection is Vikings. I had no concept before I came to live in Spain how much terror there was from sea invasions – around Dublin it was the guys from Scandinavia, here it was pirates, and the Moors, who got to rule most of Spain for 800 years.

But I leave it to Anne to tell you her own story.

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Vikings have become in romance fiction that “Viking Romance” is a subcategory on Amazon. So, when I was ready to write the first installment of my Ireland’s Medieval Heart Novelette series, I faced a big decision: Would there be Vikings?

And the answer turned out to be…sort of. While we don’t actually meet any Vikings in A Kiss at Vespers, those mighty Danes still play an important part in the story. They represent a threat, of course, on both land and sea. But Vikings also present an opportunity. No, not for a muscular romp on a pile of hides, ladies; this is sweet romance. Rather, they’re an economic opportunity.

Dull, you say? Not if you were a merchant in 11th-century Britain, looking out over the Irish Sea. You could practically hear the gold coins clinking. That’s why I set A Kiss at Vespers in the year 1008, when a little town called Dublin was growing by leaps and bounds, largely thanks to a change of heart by the Vikings who’d been terrorizing Ireland for centuries.

Some of them started to figure out that all the tromping around, stealing, and slaughtering might not be necessary. Here was this nice town – why not just settle there and find an easier way to make a living?

Merchants love a stable, settled population: they always need to buy stuff. In Vespers, the female protagonist, Asta, is the daughter of a British merchant. The novelette opens with Asta disguised as a boy, running away for love and adventure on one of her father’s trading ships bound for Dublin. So, you could say that Vikings made the story possible.

But Vikings also contribute a sense of drama to Vespers. In the early 11th century, only some of them had settled down. There was always the risk that they’d, you know, go marauding. Loot your village, attack you at sea, that type of thing. As a matter of fact…Oops! No spoilers here. You’ll have to read A Kiss at Vespers for yourself.

I wanted this story to focus on life in a monastery in medieval Ireland, and Viking characters tend to be distracting (in all sorts of ways!). But there’s another reason I let those helmeted warriors only have indirect influence: Ireland’s Medieval Heart Novelettes is meant to be a series. Since I don’t have any Vikings in this installment, that encourages me to put them in another tale.

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In 1008 AD, Dublin is just a small town, newly opened to trade now that Viking violence there has died down. A young woman named Asta runs away from her boring life in Britain on one of her father’s trading vessels bound for Dublin, hoping that she and the sailor she loves can find a new life together. But when shipwreck takes him from her, her whole world changes. She is helped up the rocky shores of eastern Ireland by handsome and enigmatic Brother Martinus, who takes her to the Monastery of St. Luran’s to recover. Despite his vows of silence and chastity, Brother Martinus is entranced by the beautiful maiden who seems delivered to him by Providence. Their unexpected relationship causes both of them to rethink their concepts of faith and love.

You can purchase A Kiss at Vespers as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and most other online retailers.

Learn more about Anne E. Johnson on her website.

SUSAN P BAKER

This week’s author lives in Mexico – another place on my bucket list – Susan I’ll be over soon! No, don’t panic my bank manager would be at the airport AK47 at the ready.

We’re in exalted company as Susan was a lawyer and then a judge and so all her books have a legal base, one of my favourite genres.

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Susan is also a grandmother and is a prolific writer with five novels and 2 non fiction books to date. And she likes chocolate, so we know she is one of us. You can find out more on her website  www.susanpbaker.com

She’s suggested I mention two of her books and the first one is My First Murder, the first book she wrote and it is FREE so you can grab a copy here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013XEIUMO

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or here on the universal link https://www.books2read.com/u/4jKNoD

Mavis Davis, a likable, new-to-the-job private investigator, not only has one of the wackiest office staffs in mystery fiction, but also goes about solving her first crime in her own, independent, highly interesting way. When greasy-spoon cafe owner Carl Singleton shows up wanting to hire Mavis to solve the murder of one of his waitresses, Doris Jones, a woman with whom he has fallen in love, Mavis reluctantly takes the job especially when Carl confesses that all the other private investigators in Houston have turned him down. But, facts are facts, and Mavis has to face that she has bills to pay that serving legal papers won’t cover.  Though the Houston Police Department, including Mavis’ boyfriend Sgt. Ben Sorensen, get in her face and try to discourage her, Mavis dives head first into the case. What she learns is, there is scandal deep in the heart of Texas. She only hopes she can uncover it before it’s too late for her.

Unaware KINDLE

Unaware is Susan’s latest book.

What you don’t know CAN hurt you.  Frustrated with the two controlling men in her life, Dena Barlow Armstrong has outlined a rosy future for herself and her children, independent of them. Her husband, Zack, constantly pushes her to turn over her inheritance to him, and when she doesn’t, he punishes her with his indifference. Her law partner and cousin, Lucas, controls her money and the types of cases she accepts.

Just as Dena begins to achieve her goal of independence, someone emerges with very different plans for her. Unaware of the danger she faces, Dena lives her life as a wife, mother, and attorney. Then one day when her husband is out of town, the stranger lurks in her garage, waiting until she and the children go to bed…

This standalone novel is Susan P. Baker’s sixth mystery/suspense novel.

Here is the link so go have a look (I’m told proper marketing people tell the public what to do – whereas I would probably write why not take a look? But I’m getting tough these days!!) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XTV5PTP  I’m off to get it right now 🙂 so I’ve persuaded myself, I must be a good salesperson after all!

Have a great week and take care.

MEET BERNIE MORRIS

I have to admire this author, my mouth fell open when I read the info she sent me – not only is she writing books she’s also a publisher.  I can’t even cope with one aspect and she is juggling two.  Over to Bernie.

BERNIE MORRIS 1

Hello, I’m Bernie Morris (pen name and real name) and am dedicated to creative writing in many forms as well as helping new authors.

While I was still in the rat race (employed) and outside having a fag break, which was the only time you got to chat with a colleague (back then), a friend said to me, “So when you get your book published, you’ll be rich – yeah?” Even then, I knew that nothing could be further from the truth, and that was long before I knew what I know now. So I just smiled and thanked him for his faith, then had a laugh later 🙂

Anyway, I have written poetry since my school-days, but never thought about writing fiction until 1987 when I was suddenly inspired to write 3 or 4 novels, one of them being ‘Bobby’s Girl‘. This started off as an autobiography, but then I added more, and then I added even more just to colour it up a bit. So in 2009, I decided to publish Bobby’s Girl as a novel, as by this time I hated the original which was absolutely outrageous and I didn’t want to be associated with it. The rest is history.

Since 2007, when a dear friend and colleague died, I have started Bronwyn Editions that is my own publishing company for other authors (as well as myself).  Trouble is, there is only one of me and loads of authors depending on me, so chance would be a fine thing to promote myself. One author actually asked me: ‘How long do I have to keep promoting before my book takes off on its own?’

I told him, ‘Forever’. Because unless you are a best-seller in your particular genre, you are just one among thousands of others. As you can imagine, he was not too pleased about this, and totally blamed his nasty publisher (me). So obviously it’s all my fault (grrr!).

BERNIE'S BOOK

Bobby’s Girl has never, ever had a bad review, or less than 5 stars, but is still not selling. I can only suppose that this is because I am so busy getting on with other authors’ work that I just don’t have time to promote it, so Mea Culpa. In case you don’t know Latin, that means it’s all my fault again (sigh).

I have started writing a screenplay for Bobby’s Girl as I really think it would make a good film. I have done one scene so far, but then got distracted by other jobs (like you do). https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0956299318

I’m sure Bernie speaks for all of us who are also on the hamster wheel of promoting, as we go round and round and round forever telling the world about our books.  Hop off for a quick flurry in the sawdust and the rankings slide at the speed of light.

Best of luck Bernie and your book looks great fun, and will bring back lots of memories of growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in UK – Bernie describes it as based on soul-shattering personal experience. Go take a look.

CLARE BLANCHARD

You have to admit that us authors are a very special breed, weird maybe but extremely clever.  Last week I told you about a book that chronicled Eve’s life (yes the very first one) and this week we’ve moved on to ghosts from a later era.

Author Clare sent me two pictures, she said one was formal and the other informal. I’m not going to choose, I’ll use them both – it shows us writers as human, with real lives outside our fictional works – although I sometimes have my doubts about that!

Over to Clare.

Do you believe in ghosts? I didn’t, until I stayed at a hotel in the centre of Prague one night a few years ago. As I lay in bed, I became aware of a disturbing presence in my room. It was haunted, as well as haunting. It was the ghost of a man desperate to have his story told. I had no idea who he was and was too tired to be scared. The next day, I got up and wandered into a bookstore only a few hundred yards away. Taking an intriguing-looking book called Praga Mysteriosa off the shelf, I read to my surprise that the very street in which my hotel stood was said to be haunted by a ghost – the ghost of a barber who had abandoned his wife and daughters in the 17th century to go and become an alchemist. Bohemian Mystery is the result of my encounter with his ghost.

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A beautiful and thought-provoking novel….”

Bohemian Mystery is an intriguing novel, which opens in medieval Prague, a city at the heart of Bohemia, with its unique source of moldavite, a green gemstone laid down by a meteorite at the dawn of history. Sylvia, the protagonist, has an instinctive affinity to the city, which is where her own mother was born. But in modern Britain this is at odds with her burgeoning career at a prestigious girls’ boarding school – an institution steeped in hierarchy and eccentricity, which Clare Blanchard describes with an irresistible meld of humour and satire. However, gradually her affection for Prague draws her back again and again and she discovers that there are unexpected links between the old city and those ancient Etruscan civilisations that instigated the spread of culture and architecture across continents. She learns also that many of these legends stretch back to biblical times, and that there are even connections pulling at her own roots. Her life and purpose are transformed by these revelations. Bohemian Mystery takes you on a satisfying journey, providing food for thought long after the book is closed – a journey well worth travelling.

Brenda Parker, author of The Cilento Dove and Anya Paris

The experience of living in two or three different cultures drives Clare’s wicked sense of humour, but also makes her plots quirky, with unexpected twists of history woven in. Give Bohemian Mystery a try!

You can buy Clare’s book here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XX66Z7C

and visit her website  www.clareblanchard.com